It’s comforting to know that even members of one of Canada’s most famous comedy troupes are willing to do the same silly things for love that the rest of us are. Kevin McDonald of The Kids in the Hall – a popular comedy sketch group on the CBC from 1988 to 1994 – had a lifelong aversion to running even though he lost a lot of weight as an adult after being an overweight teenager. He grew up with asthma. “I thought I would wheeze and die if I ever ran so I stayed as far away from running as I could,” McDonald says. “I was a chubby asthmatic. Then I was a skinny asthmatic.” Then he met a girl.
“That [fear of running] lasted most of my life but then three and a half years ago I met my girlfriend (dancer Paula Blair) – the healthiest person I know – and she suggested I run,” McDonald, 51, says from their home in Winnipeg. “I laughed,” he says, but like most smitten people, “I was overcome by the power of suggestion.”
McDonald started slow – 10 minutes at a time, building up to 15, 20 and eventually 30 minutes on one run. One day he began to have an asthma attack as he started out and although he was without his inhaler, he decided to push through the wheezing – he was in his running clothes already, after all – and soon after, the wheezing dissipated. “It cured my asthma. It was the opposite of what I thought my whole life,” he says. “And that’s when I got super addicted.” McDonald now runs a “very, very slow” 4K a day – whether it’s on the treadmill at home, the sidewalks of Winnipeg or while he’s travelling on the road. “The Kids in the Hall, would have gone crazy with laughter because it would [have seemed] impossible. We even run on Christmas.”
The odd Kids in the Hall skit would poke fun at McDonald for his anxiety about his weight. One memorable skit featured Dave Foley’s character calling McDonald every name in the overweight insult book. But not anymore. “At 51, I look like a child of 44 and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m healthier than I was at 23, a 100,000 times healthier,” he says.
“It makes me feel more awake. Now that I’m healthier, I honestly feel my senses are sharper and I enjoy life more,” McDonald says, adding that a good run usually translates into a successful day creatively with his writing.
He ran the 2012 Winnipeg half-marathon, finishing just a hair over three hours – an “embarrassing” time that was printed in a local newspaper much to his chagrin.
But when his time became the butt of a joke, his girlfriend stepped in with a bit of wisdom. “‘You try running for three hours,’ is what she said, which I think is an excellent way of putting it,” McDonald says.